When I first moved to the United States as a teenager, Americans kept asking me, “do you like it here?” As the good Haitian that I was, the focus on this question made little sense to me: what did it matter? My parents decided to move the family, so there we all were. Besides, being in the US was a good thing, a benefit of which countless Haitians could only dream.
But those Americans were right: “likes” are important. My Christian faith says so.
We readily accept that God “calls” missionaries to Haiti, but I do not believe God calls people to places they do not like. As our creator, God forms and knows the desires of our hearts, and as our Father, he takes pleasure in granting them because they both fulfill his plans and make us happy.
So I must now inquire of missionaries: do you like it here? Do you like Haiti?
This question is of capital importance. It demands an answer for the well-being of all us: missionaries, Haitians – Haiti. For when we like or love, our actions fall in a protected class. The impact of our good deeds is amplified beyond our imagination. A simple smile to a stranger sustains him, unbeknownst to us, for a whole day, encouraging him to show kindness in return to those around him. And our mistakes, no matter what they are, inflict less damage. It is as if nature itself says, “I know what you mean.”
My God, Paul was right. Love is essential. I believe it is essential because it brings joy: we are just happy, almost independently of the folks around us. (“Happiness floats,” reminds us Naomi Shye.) And a happy person is a kind person. He goes above what is required or expected, effortlessly. He practices all good things: gratitude, humility, understanding, empathy, explaining away slights and wrongs, genuine apologies, beautifying eyes, desire to please. All things needed in Haiti.
If you cannot answer yes to that question, please check the “call.” God means for us all to be happy.